Now editor: Minorities too 'demoralised' to join media

The lack of positive stories about ethnic minorities working in the media could be putting off young people from pursuing a career in the sector, according to Now editor Abigail Blackburn.

Blackburn has come in at number 10 on the women’s list of Britain’s 100 most influential black people, created by Powerful Media in partnership with JP Morgan.

Elle Decoration editor-in-chief Michelle Ogundehin made third place, and Blackburn said it is encouraging to see two journalists in the top 10.

She said: ‘I don’t often read that much good news about people of ethnic minority in media. I see a lot of worried stories – people saying no one is getting there and no one makes it into a high profile position. I read that a lot and think it’s not really true.”

Blackburn, who joined celebrity weekly Now in March this year from the deputy editor’s role at IPC stablemate Woman, said that although it is a great strength of British media that ethnic diversity in the workplace is discussed, she felt there are more black people working in the media than young people are led to think.

She said: ‘People underestimate how demoralising it is when once a year you hear Lenny Henry say ‘no one will ever get anywhere in media’. I see that and it makes me feel a bit [disheartened]. If you’re younger and you’re reading that you might think well, should I even try?”

Blackburn joined IPC in November 2005 to work on the 2006 relaunch of the mature women’s weekly Woman, and before joining IPC she spent time on the Daily Mail’s Femail and celebrity weekly Reveal, as well as TV Week, Vogue Living and New Woman in Australia.

Now launched 13 years ago and recorded a circulation of 447,094 for the first half of 2008 – something which Blackburn said is more significant than it is given credit for.

She said: ‘It’s a big market and it gets spoken about a lot because it’s a huge profit driver and has huge circulations, but sometimes it doesn’t get talked about how incredible it is that if you have a great cover half a million people will pick that up.”

She added: ‘For me, I think magazines are a very important powerhouse in themselves, and I guess there’s a concern that if people aren’t editing national newspapers then they’re not editing anything important.”

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